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>> good afternoon. the planning commission is back in session. if i could remind everyone to turn off your cell phones or electronic devices that may sound off during this proceeding. at this moment, at this time, you are on item 9a and 9b, for 1945 high street. as you consider the request for discretionary review, the zoning administrator is hearing the request for variance. just because i understand there is a question about it, the various hearing and dr hearing
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are concurrent, happening at the same time, so if there is someone here who wants to speak in opposition to the variance, they would speak at the time those who are supporting the dr or are in opposition to the project. there will not be separate hearings. >> good afternoon, commissioners. i'm rick crawford, of the apartments that. this is a request for discretionary review of the reuse of the two-story over basement existing concrete parking garage, containing 58 parking spaces, to a three-story over basement including 14 parking spaces, provided with seven staffers and one commercial space of approximately 860 square feet. the project also requires a variance in the rear yard for the change of use to
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residential and for the construction of the third floor addition. the existing building is considered an historic resourced. the project includes construction of a new third floor to the building. the addition has been set back from the front and from russell street side of the property to protect the historic integrity of the building. the department is encouraged to add that. the addition would add 10 feet in the rear where 25 feet are required, and assessing the requested variants. the dr is our concern with the loss of parking in the neighborhood and also with the mass of the resulting building. 23 of the 58 parking spaces are used for long term parking by the neighbors. the remainder of the parking spaces are short-term hourly parking used by people going into the neighboring businesses. the department has received nine comments from the public supporting the project in addition to the two neighborhood
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groups, the department has received five comments from the public opposing the project. our position relates primarily -- the project has been exempt from review in addition to respond appropriately to book the historic nature of the building in the neighborhood. the firm recommends that the commission approve this project, as the project will replace a parking garage with seven new residential units and neighborhood-saving commercial space. the project contributes in response to the city for affordable housing and the proposed project complies with the planning code with the exception of the requested variants, promotes the projected new policies or the general plan and advances the transit first policy. i will be happy to answer your questions. thank you. commissioner olague: thank you. we have two dr requesters. you each get five minutes. >> i have 168 signed petitions
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against the currently proposed project, and the affirmation i will be presenting to you today. thank you for hearing this. we are currently opposed to current proposed projects that 1945 hyde street. the largest complaint is because this is a neighborhood commercial district in which only 1000 square feet are being used for commercial space. this project feels more in line with a residential development than a neighborhood commercial development in the fact that less than 10% of the space is being used for commercial space and the rest is being used for essential space. the analogy that came to my mind is that had houses are not considered part of an existing building, and yet, they are
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allowed to take up 10% of a rough area. here you have a neighborhood commercial development, in which commercial space is less than 10%. the highest and best use for this project we feel would be that the total ground-floor be used for commercial space and other spaces be used accordingly. but in regards to revenue, we look at this project and whether it would be better for the city to generate revenue in its current state or in its proposed state, and we found that the parking tax staying at 25% of gross revenue, the its current state generates 5% more revenue than is proposed -- and its proposed project, and also the fact that the proposed project would be protected under
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proposition 13, so the long-term taxable revenue the city would generate would be left on the proposed project than the current -- than sufficient use of the current proposed project. there are several other concerns that the neighborhood has in regards to the negative impact the proposed project would be. the first is showing that russian hill is a unique situation where we have very few streets that actually traverse russian hill. bay street, union st., and pacific are the only three thoroughfares that move east to west in russian hill, so that only allows for three transportation corridors in russian hill. so you have within a 14-block radius, union street is the only one between those 14 blocks. if you look here, these all indicate heavily slope streets, which make it difficult for pedestrians walking and for
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bicycling. there are only two possible routes that cover russian hill. this is one, and this is the other. there are no bicycle for pedestrian routes within the russian hill area. it makes it very difficult to use other modes of transportation within russian hill besides an automobile. here is a muni math -- map of russian hill. here is the proposed site. there are only three routes that service russian hill, both on pacific, union, and bay street. the problem does not involve just having those three. the problem really gets pointed out here where you show it against density. russian hill is the most dense and leased service area in san
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francisco in regards to public transportation, so it has a density of 45,000 residents per square mile, so it makes it very difficult to service russian hill as a unit. the last thing i want to show you, since time is running out -- this is what would happen if you just through all the parking structures on russian hill. the net effect -- cars, sorry, cars on russian hill. the net effect is if you took every vacant space that currently exists in russian hill, it would take a 20-block surrounding the area and would take up every vacant space within that area a few through 50 cars on the street and took them into the existing vacant spaces. we hope that you are not -- [bell rings]
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>> good afternoon. my name is jamie kerry, and i'm a member of the russian hill community association. as a fellow neighborhood organization, i would like to -- the rhda completely supports the efforts of the neighbors in raising these planning issues. i would like to begin by acknowledging that we appreciate that a developer has the right to develop the property. however, you, as the planning commission, have a responsibility to assure that the developers rights do not violate the right of the general public good or the long term goals of this city. as residents of san francisco, we are using this discretionary review to call your attention to this proposal, which does indeed go against the greater good of
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the public and the long-term sustainable transportation goals of this city. disapprove this project or at the very least continue it so that you can -- until you can do a strategic planning steady and determined the best land use value for this city. this is not a routine proposal. the real issues are planning issues, not project review issues. the planning issues need further assessment. more importantly, this proposal affords a valuable land use asset in san francisco's voluble changing infrastructure. the project as presented is simple. but in fact, this project is not simple as presented. it is out of scale with the neighborhood and creates a
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fortress residential structure. it is an inappropriate use for this structure, and it does not supply the much-needed middle- income housing for the city. the existing building is not complying. it is six times larger than its surrounding structures, especially those on russell street. and it reduces neighborhood with ability. these are planning issues. the context of this project has also been ignored. it ignores this math. it ignores the value of the current use it ignores the value of the potential future use for the neighborhood. the current use is the best use. the structure has been used this way for nearly 100 years.
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it was built to service the community needs of both residents and businesses. it enables local businesses to survive. local businesses say their businesses would be threatened and local jobs would be lost if we lose this structure. it meets the needs of our neighborhood diversity. the structure across -- provides 58 spaces of crosstree parking for young families, seniors, visitors, tourists, and customers. the current use underpins a city-wide value for a sustainable future. we are booking -- looking at an existing solution right now for a sustainable multi modal transportation infrastructure that could accommodate electric charging stations, by stations, and cars share stations. 1945 hyde is one of 130 similar
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garages throughout our city. look at this map. there is 130 existing potential facilities, and guess what -- the future is already here. let's recognize that this project is a planning blind spot. yes, the planning code allows the change and resulting higher market valuation of the law. that is good for the developer but not good for the need of mixed uses. that are not valued in the same market level. the commission needs to weigh and decide the best plan use value of this spot for the city's future. do not throw away this asset. once it is gone, it is born -- it is gone. the approval of this project would come and eliminate a
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valuable resource. save a valuable resource. disproved -- disapprove this project or at the very least, continue it until you can have in-depth study. commissioner olague: thank you. project sponsor? i'm sorry. first, we hear the speakers in support, and we will limited to two minutes because we have a 6:00 time certain item, which we hope we can manage to get to at 6:00. [reading names] >> members of the commission, chair of housing and zoning for the russian hill community association. i think we need to be very clear about this -- absent the shell of this industrial use building,
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the proposed project would not be code compliant. it would not comply with the planning code. it would not comply with the general plan. it certainly would not comply with residential guidelines. if we really wanted to do something here, then what you should do it is let the project sponsor demolish the existing structure. keep this facade. but in four or 540-foot condos -- four or five 40-foot condos that would at least be compatible. if you want to do away with the parking use, which was the reason that the structure was created and the reason that this industrial structure is acceptable in the neighborhood, then let's get rid of not only the use, but let's get rid of the structure. i'm not really asking for that, but i'm saying that there are alternatives. the alternatives have not been considered. the facts and figures have not
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been considered. there is insufficient issue. if you say yes to this right now, you are going to look back five years from now, and it will be like the fontana apartments where someone says, "boots, we should not have let that happen -- "oops, we should not have let that happen." >> good afternoon. today, i would like to read for you a little bit of nathan silver "lost new york." let me say that from the environmental documents i reviewed, there does not seem to be a very good study of the cumulative impact of the loss of 58 off street parking spaces on the neighboring historic district in which this building is located. nathan silver taught for four years at columbia university and was in new york at the time that congress passed the laws which
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seek what is adapted for california. in that discussion, he said, "it seems to me that conservation is an" -- and he made a difference between that and preservation -- "is an equally challenging concern of ours. architecture is not the art of beautiful buildings but the art of human use, the conservation of good news is a matter of concern for everyone in the present and future, and conservation is not obstructionist but why is -- wise." when jack kerouac arrive at 29 russell street, it was for only a few days. in the middle of "on the road" he discussed seeing the cable car and the florist across the street and the market on the corner. he was looking for a bar because he needed to peak, and in the house where he was saying, the only bathroom was across the bedrooms, so he tiptoes across them, and the next morning, the famous photograph was taken
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where she takes them out and they go on the road. but why is there a new garage door in a building which already has two? i do not understand why the vehicle trips generated by this project need to be visited upon russell street. i think the project still concedes in terms of its effect and study to date. thank you. >> good afternoon, commissioners. i have lived on russian hill for 30 years. you remember the parking sticker program that was started 30 years ago? russian hill is a sticker. our neighborhood was designated as the most dense and difficult place to park. the situation has only gotten worse. the century-old valencia the raj -- garage provide some
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relief by alleviating some street parking. nonetheless, it is my 30-plus your observation that it is virtually impossible to park anywhere near the valencia garage after 6:00, and you are lucky to find a spot during the day. further -- never mind. skip that. time limit. city proclamation recognizing the value of the valencia garage, the city and county of san francisco issued a proclamation long before this became an issue, stating in part -- here is the proclamation. valencia auto service has provided parking spaces for more than 40 automobiles, thus relieving parking congestion in the neighborhood. that was at a time when the
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middle layer was a repair shop, so there was parking on the third level and parking on the first level, but there was no parking on the second. we now have 58 parking spaces. on two occasions in the past two years, when i parked at the valencia, i witnessed to the wheeler drivers to happen to be blocking my driveway, and asked the attendant if there were available monthly parking spaces. they were told that there were no available space is -- spaces. commissioner olague: thank you. >> good afternoon, commissioners. i have lived with my husband at the corner of hide and greene streets for more than 30 years. i'm here today to specifically address the ability of middle- class families on russian hill -- middle income families on russian hill like ours who do not own a the raj, who depend on
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on-street or sometimes off street parking to thrive in this community. i believe as the commissioners, it is your responsibility to help us maintain this kind of diversity in our neighborhood. so i'm here speaking for some of the merchants in the neighborhood as well as people like myself. we need to be very careful about the issue of how many places are being displaced year. the developer i believe suggested as few as 14 places are being displaced. that is conveniently the same number he is creating. but what i want to address is i believe it is about 18 or 23 we have heard use the garage permanently, but there is a potential 58 cars using this on a temporary basis, and that is -- quite often in our neighborhood, on a nightly basis, for entertainment and for
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restaurants. what happens when these cars are forced onto the street is a domino effect, and we have observed it many times. neighbors then decide that they have to put in their own garages. each driveway takes one or two parking places off of the street so it is no longer available to the public. this also increases the value of the property for that honor and for their neighbors, which makes it more difficult for middle- income people to live in this neighborhood, so we are well on our way to creating russian hill as a rich center only, which is how it is always portrayed, but i'm here to tell you that it is not. i want to speak very forcefully for middle income families. commissioner olague: thank you. [reading names]
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>> good afternoon, commissioners. i'm an architect and a professor of design at uc-davis, and i have spoken and published articles about these buildings. san francisco is blessed with a rare and excellent inventory of historic garages like the one a 1945 high. it is an important example of a tight. these buildings are early symbols of the evolving car culture, and the passat represent a combination of civic pride and pride of ownership. the facades typically employed portal interest to celebrate the passage of cars into the indiana interior, and this dynamic is fundamental to the character of the building. this garage is eligible for
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listing in the california register under so-called criteria 3 because it embodies the distinctive characteristics of an architectural type -- a 1920's ramp parking go raj with an architecturally embellish the exterior. as a result of its eligibility, it must be protected from substantial adverse change, and i do not believe that this project meets that standard. in standard one of the secretary of the interior's standards, a property shall be used for its historic purpose or be placed in a new use that requires minimal change to the defining characteristic of the building. the parking use is the defining characteristic of the building, as brought to life through the passage of cars across the fed sought and into the indiana interior. conversion to residential use fundamentally alters the historic relationship of the garage to the street. the accessibility from the
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street is compromise, as is the original use of the facade to celebrate the passage of the hackles. >> good afternoon, commissioners. i live at 43 russell street. was there for 23 years. what i would like to do is talk today briefly about the role of the 1945 building in the larger transportation infrastructure of the city here in 1945 is one facility in a larger network of community parking facilities. that might not be apparent because it was not apparent to us when we for started looking at the proposal. it became apparent, became evident when we found out it was one of 150 remaining 1920's their historic garages in the
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city, and no doubt, there are other more recent ones. the inside formed a neighborhood network of community parking garages. this creates a land use asset for the city that also may not be evident. that asset is one component of the city's multimodal transportation system, and that land use assets for its mixed use and livability, not only in the neighborhoods, but citywide. there city-wide land use asset is at risk now. unwittingly from a planning code provision that allows the change of use by right from parking automotive to residential. this provision allows competition across uses, such as the higher market value used wins. this is a good idea, even a great idea, as long as those uses are interchangeable and it does not matter which one wins. it is a bad idea if you need both uses, and we need both uses
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for mixed use and livability. in this case, it is a bad idea because the residential does not replace the neighborhood network of parking facilities, and those facilities could respond to market demand over time for new transportation services in those locations, so the question becomes -- how little of the one used and how much of the other is the right balance? i would suggest that it fortress' residential development -- [billings] commissioner olague: thank you. -- [bell rings] commissioner olague: thank you. >> is not the right one. [laughter] >> i'll live at green/hide and have for 30 years. i wanted to point out that all three neighborhood associations on russian hill are opposed to this project. you have already heard from

March 10, 2011 3:30pm-4:00pm PST

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